Quick quiz - name the American city that boasts more art galleries per resident than New York, Seattle or San Francisco.
If you don't believe the answer is Mancos, take the 30-minute drive west Saturday and see for yourself. The town of 1,200 better known for its historic links to the past such as authentic stagecoaches and blacksmiths will welcome seven new businesses during the daylong "Mancos on the Move" celebration.
Five of the new Grand Avenue storefronts are galleries or showcases of creativity: Arborena is a wine bar and art gallery that will feature the works of Peggy Melyssa Cloy in its opening weeks; Telluride transplant The Bounty Hunter offers custom boots and fine leather products; the Raven House Gallery is co-owned by potter Marilyn Kroeker and photographer Steve Sykes; Spirit Horse is a regional jewelry and leatherworks shop; and Goodnight Trail Gallery of Western Art is the namesake of sculptor Veryl Goodnight.
Even Basin Motorcycle Works, specializing in classic BMWs and Triumphs, has a small gallery to welcome customers. And is it a stretch to call Ian James, producer of Ian's Alley Rum in the Mancos Valley's only known legal distillery, an artist in his own right?
It's an irrefutable fact that the Mancos renaissance wouldn't be happening without the arrival of Goodnight on the scene.
The Colorado native returned to her home state two years ago after an 18-year stint in Santa Fe, where she established herself as one of the country's pre-eminent sculptors.
Her pieces alone transform the space. But Goodnight has friends in high places, and their work adorns Goodnight Trail as well. Photos by Barbara Van Cleve, sculpture from Bill Nebeker and paintings by Wayne Wolfe and Carole Cooke that can't be found in the nation's finest galleries are in abundance at her new digs.
"They're all my friends, and they love Mancos as much as we do," Goodnight said, referring to her husband and co-owner, Roger Brooks.
Kroeker said Goodnight's arrival capped a seven-year effort by the Mancos Artists' Co-op that has been a support group for what has until now been a local cottage industry.
"Slowly but surely this little art scene has been growing, and once Veryl got to town it's just taken off," Kroeker said.
She and her fellow entrepreneurs hope to put Mancos on the art world's map and detour travelers from U.S. Highway 160 into the town's soon-to-be bustling downtown business district.
About 800,000 tourists visit Mesa Verde National Park each year, most of them passing through Mancos on the way from Durango to the park entrance.
Despite the woes of the U.S. economy, if even a small fraction of those people add Mancos to their itinerary, it could redefine the meaning of a Western boom town.
"I think it's a good time to do it, and it's an example of very American values at their best," Kroeker said.
"When push comes to shove sometimes it's a good time to shove and that's what Mancos is doing."